Picture some of the brightest minds in world innovation all in one room, discussing, presenting, and demonstrating the power of cutting-edge technology. This was the scene at the Capgemini Week of Innovation Networks 2016 (#CWIN16), where dozens of experts sought to marry emerging technology to business goals, while increasing efficiency and saving cost and energy.
CWIN is a globally-connected program of events focusing on the latest trends in business and innovation, with a host of exciting guest appearances condensed into a single week.
This annual event, which has been running for seven years formerly known as Architecture Week, has been broadened to encompass a wider variety of new ideas, technologies and solutions and how these can improve existing products and services, with the underlying theme of “bringing innovation to life”.
The 2016 event, which took place late in September, was spread across 21 cities globally with local events and webcasts bringing together Capgemini’s extensive network of customers and partners. It underlined Capgemini’s role in facilitating connections between start-ups, academics, and larger organizations in a practical setting. Capgemini is passionate about applied innovation; not just technology for its own sake, but ensuring that innovation is locked into business goals.
In Toulouse, France, delegates heard from a range of thought leaders working in a colorful tapestry of sectors from hyper-speed travel to planetary exploration; a clear indication of Capgemini’s commitment to encouraging innovation in all areas. They talked about cutting-edge innovation in micro-services, predictive analytics, and augmented reality, among many other areas.
Making technology relevant
Opening the event, Capgemini’s Innovation Vice President Patrice Duboé, set the scene and talked about the program ahead.
“We are talking about applied innovation against a backdrop of limited resources,” he explained. “The key is lean architecture, coding, transmission, and low energy solutions to practical business challenges.”
Later, he gave his personal take on the week’s importance: “It’s the Internet of Valuable Things. In other words, optimizing the opportunities and cutting out waste.
“With technology you can do anything you want. The real question is ‘where is the value’? How can I use technology to give me the most power? It’s not the future, we are answering these questions now.
“With satellite technology you can be fully connected in the middle of nowhere and there are many implications for where businesses and their teams locate. We have to change the mindset. It is access over ownership, it’s less about ‘I have’ and more about ‘I am’ or ‘I enjoy’.”
One of the speakers was Andres de Leon, COO of Hyperloop. His organization is developing a mode of transport that uses vacuum-sealed tubes to carry passengers across large distances at eye-watering speeds, safely, and in comfort.
The project is notable not just for its ambitious goals, but also because it is developing the technology in full public view with input from a large group of experts drawn from across industry via a crowdsourcing campaign.
“There is generally a lot of excitement about this project,” said Mr Leon after delivering his presentation. “Travelling at the speed of sound is very exciting, but so is the way we are building the company. We are probably the biggest example of crowdsourcing in the world.”
Voices from across the global economy
Guillaume Runser from Hewlett Packard Enterprise said Capgemini has a track record of connecting people and innovation: “We work with a lot of start-ups. HP was born in a garage and we created the first PC, so we enjoy working with new businesses because of all the great ideas being generated.”
At another stand, five year-old business Ubleam was explaining its augmented reality platform which helps brands deliver fresh content to customers via labels on products.
“Our business connects people to the Internet of Things. They can scan a label and get information and content from the brand, including recipes, stories and even video. It’s particularly useful when space in the real world is limited,” said co-founder Samuel Boury.
An opportunity to talk and to learn
The combination of large and small, new and established businesses was a potent mix for delegates. One described how he enjoyed networking with the “high-quality crowd”.
“This is the second time I have been here and what I enjoy most is discussing the big topics of the moment,” he said.
“It’s important for me to understand the technology and transformations that are happening outside my business and relate them to what we are doing internally. It is a high-quality crowd so I enjoy the conversations.
“I like the ideas, both in terms of incremental innovation and things that are completely new. It is very inspiring and it helps us to think outside the box a little bit more. It’s very important because it is inspiring to hear new ways of thinking.”
CWIN 2016 reaffirmed Capgemini’s commitment to innovation and partnerships. Meanwhile, the new ideas and connections shared during the week are testament to the appetite for progress throughout the organization’s business ecosystem.
By Dan Matthews
Dan Matthews is a London-based journalist writing for the UK broadsheet press. He is also the author of ‘The New Rules of Business’, a book revealing the secrets of a range of entrepreneurs, and founder of the news website Minutehack.com. Titles he has written for include The Daily Telegraph, The Times, Raconteur Media, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Real Business Magazine and The Marketer.